Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Late Night Listening XLIV: Thanksgiving 2023

I think I've posted lyrics from this song in a prior post, so it seems like cheating to post the song as a Late Night Listening selection, but it captures the vibe I'm feeling tonight. The song "Coming Up Close" by 'Til Tuesday is the quintessential song that sounds like Thanksgiving, but really isn't.

We know it's not Thanksgiving in the song because the first stanza states:

One night in Iowa
He and I in a borrowed car
Went driving in the summer
Promises in every star

But that reverberating guitar and repeated references to "Welcome home," screams driving home past fields newly laid barren from recent harvests on an overcast November during my college years, looking forward to meeting up with high school friends and driving aimlessly some evening when nothing else was going on.

I'm up late because I wanted to give myself some extra time to digest dinner. The girlfriend and I went out this evening with other family members to watch a stand-up comedy show in which her niece's boyfriend was headlining. The girlfriend's daughter, came up from about an hour away and will be staying with us through Thanksgiving. After we got home from the show, the above song started playing through my head.

For almost ten months now, I've been at working at a new job. My employer is remote, up in the Windy City. It's a not-for-profit service operated by a major institution of higher learning. The pay is good. The benefits are phenomenal.

It has been one of the most challenging learning curves I've had in terms of software development, which is surprising given that the development is in a language I have been working with for a decade now. I think part of the challenge has been that the service has a complicated architecture. It has to deal with federated authentication and interaction with systems not under our control. Some of the system is handled by complicated background processes, and it has to do this within a highly regulated environment.

My group, a team of five, is scattered. Two are in the Windy City area. Another is near the Gateway city, and a third is down in the Lone Star state. We meet daily for a status meeting and a more extended planning meeting ever other week. There are also recurring cross-team meetings and even a book club, so there is plenty to keep me engaged.

Kids are both in college now. My younger daughter started her first year, with the aspiration of going on to dental school. The older daughter is struggling through her third year, and I'm afraid to think of what the grades might be come the end of the semester.

I struggle with a lot of dark moments these days. Part of it has been the ebb and flow of confidence crises at work. After 26 years of doing some form of software development, I still have a lot of days where I feel like I'm less competent than people think. Another is that I am at the age when my dad had his stroke, so mortality weighs heavily on me.

 The political mood in the US and abroad from 2016 onward has left me on edge so badly that I have to curtail my consumption of news. I feel like the past seven or eight years, it seems like those who appeal to the worst instincts have gained such a following, and the ones who pursue justice don't have a consistent answer to push back against what can only be described as an asshole liberation movement.

The lack of a disciplined journal routine has left my mind cluttered and burdened. At times my mind is fogged, having trouble keeping track with the passage of weeks. The pandemic didn't help on that front, but I think it's something other than a long COVID response.

Although the things that vex me now are quite different from what motivated this blog 17 years ago, I might return to this space to ruminate and work out the things that trouble me.